Cumberland University launches project on Martin Van Buren

AP News
Posted: Feb 14, 2016 12:21 PM

LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) — Cumberland University is launching a major national project Monday — in time for Washington's Birthday — on the papers of Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was the eighth president of the U.S., serving from 1837 to 1841.

The university will hold a press conference Monday to talk about the project that involves posting online more than 13,000 of Van Buren's documents, including his speeches and letters. Cumberland University history professor Mark Cheathem, who will serve as project director, says some heavy lifting is involved, since Van Buren's handwriting was notoriously illegible.

Prior to serving as president, Van Buren served as Andrew Jackson's vice president. He is credited with engineering Jackson's groundbreaking election.

A shrewd politician, Van Buren was one of the founders of the Democratic Party and is considered an architect of the modern-day political campaign.

The university will hold a press conference on the Van Buren Project at 2 p.m. Monday in the Doris & Harry Vise University Library. Afterward, the presidential paper historians of George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew Jackson will speak about their projects and how they relate to Van Buren.

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His papers show that unlike Jackson and other presidents, Van Buren was guarded in his writings, Cheathem said.

Some of the papers have already been published online at